tv Washington Journal Victor Cha CSPAN October 7, 2022 6:10pm-6:36pm EDT
9:00, the race to represent virginia's 10th congressional district. then a debate for the oregon governors race. you can also watch these events on the free c-span video app or c-span.org. >> the january 6 committee returns on thursday. you can watch the hearing live getting at 1:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, c-span now, or c-span.org. morning is victor cha the director during
the bush administration also the senior vice president for asia and korea mr. cha let's talk about what happened here just this week what exactly did north korea do with the missile? guest: a couple of things. earlier in the week they flew a missile over the archipelago of japan. even if you don't know a lot about north korea is pretty provocative when one country flies a ballistic missile over in another country. many risks not least of which is the missile could fail and fall on the country. it was the longest missile that north korea had longed to date. which of course crew raises an eyebrow. and after that, the north koreans yesterday launched
additional missiles. there were about a dozen fighter jets and bombers near the border with so are you. fairly provocative action even for north korea. they usually communicate through shows of force. but these latest provocations attracted a lot of attention for good reason. >> why do you he took these actions? guest: it's very difficult always try to understand what north korea is doing they are the most paid country in the world in terms of what they say and what they do. i think they like to be ok, and like to keep the world guessing but one of the reasons possibility is they are responding to u.s. and south korea and japanese exercising in the region and the three countries, the three allies have
wrote -- in response to over 40 missile tests by northern korea. these are missile-defense exercises of various sorts. the north would also like to get attention and they know that the united states is distracted by the war in europe as well as concerns about the war in europe might mean for chinese intentions across the taiwan strait. in addition to issue some help the slowdown of oil from opec countries, there is a whole host of things for midterm elections so part of the whole thing is to attract attention and we can't rule out the simple reason which is they are continuing to develop their both the sick missile and nuclear weapons technology in order to do that, they have to be able to test the kids ability so the they can't judge that very scientifically for doing things of this
particular time. host: what is it propose? guest: they launched intermediate range ballistic missile it can travel about 4500 kilometers. it is mostly launched from a global -- mobile platform which means it is harder for the united states if we detected the sort of missile launch headed for the u.s. homeland it would you ok to take out the missile before i can do in her -- any harm. guest: host: could the united states have taken out this missile as it launched and if they could have, why didn't the united states do that? guest: without getting into a bunch of stuff that we can talk about on tv, i think the united
states has the capability abilities i will say that it gets much harder when these missiles are not sitting on a platform being filled over a. of two days but when they are mobile they can move them around and it's like a pop up lunch platform and if the missiles have solid fuel propellant in other words we don't have this kind were we can see them do this. this idea that they lunch we don't think it has the link. but still, it is very difficult in general. the decision to take out the missile is a very important one because i think you can only be made by the president of the united states. because of the brisket poses in terms of it escalating tensions and perhaps starting a war or a nuclear war.
policy is that the u.s. tracked these things very closely. we could intercept it host: know it was going to be launched, new the trajectory, new where it would land? guest: so that is one of the purposes of all of our overhead capabilities, just to be able to detect overhead and ground-based capabilities to be able to detect and trap the trajectory of the missiles but north korea is also doing a lot to try to overwhelm our ability to do that. our ability to track and ultimately defend hitting the missile. working on technology is to try to define our missile defenses.
host: does north korea have the capacity to hit the united states or a territory? guest: based on what i have seen the senses says they do have the capability today. it is not an operationally capable option that they have tested enough to show that they can reach warm, hawaii, and parts of the continental united states. they don't test these missiles in the direction so they land 100 miles off of los angeles, so they don't do that but they test them on large trajectory. if fires it straight up into the air and then they come down, not far from, you know, they come down in the waters between korea and japan based on that lawsuit
if you sort of flatten the trajectory out it gives you a sense of the distance and can travel and they shot these up in the past and they go pretty high then when you flatten out the trajectory you can catch that they can reach certainly the west coast of the united states if not further. host: the ambassador to the united nations tweeted out we called use for security council metal -- meeting to address the missile launch. we want to limit the country's ability what options to the united states and other countries have? guest: that question is not an easy one to answer i would like to start by saying i think also part of miss springfield's, her statement that the u.n. was russia and china are enabling
korea so one of the ways they try to limit this capability on the part of -- is to get china and russia to enforce sanctions they find -- signed onto. the security council resolution kerry trigger causes within them that say if north korea is to launch another ballistic missile china will cut off fuel the russians and the chinese are not doing this right now. let alone signing onto new resolutions at the u.n. to try to sanction north korea. this enables north korea to gather the financing to continue to build and finance these programs. the second thing more broadly, and i know some people don't like to hear this, is that we have to find a way to negotiate with north korea.
the only time we've really gotten north korea to stop testing missiles or nuclear weapons is when the united states is in negotiations with them. when worry trying to engage them to stop them from continuing to build their programs. and we're in a protracted period of no negotiations with north korea. ing and it's not by coincidence that we're also seeing a high volume in testing during this period of no negotiations. so i think that's important. exercising, military exercising, military readiness, of course that's very important. for the united states and its allies. in the previous u.s. administration, the previous u.s. president committed not to exercising with our allies, japan and south korea in the region, which degraded military readiness as part of his summit deal with north korea. but that military readiness is important for deterrence so that north korea doesn't think it can
get away with some sort of military coercion against the united states or its allies. and we also know that military exercising doesn't really stop testing by north korea. the only thing that stops testing by north korea is some form of negotiation. host: let's hear from dan who is in brooklyn. a republican. morning to you, dan. tkphapb brooklyn. are you there? -- dan in brooklyn. are you there? one last call for dan in brooklyn. republican caller. are you with us? caller: yes, i am. host: ok. go ahead. caller: two questions for -- good morning, professor cha. the first one is, much of the nuclear technology of north korea seems to have something of a russian origin and to the great consternation of china. i wonder if there's a way to play these or what role they play relative to the relationship with japan.
are we essentially able to pressure the russians as well as the north koreans effectively? or -- and get some cooperation from the chinese? or do we have to take them as one unit, which i think would be a mistake. guest: so thanks for the question, dan. so, yes. your question is correct in the sense that the russians have actually played a large role in terms of the development of north korea's ballistic missile program. north korea basically has taken russian technology, whether it's short range ballistic missiles or the long range ones that follow them. essentially taken russian technology, reversed -- have used it, have imported it directly into their initial earlier generations of missiles, but then have also reversed
engineered those missile engine -- reverse engineered those missile engines and developed modifications to build their own missiles which they then have sold to other countries like iran and pakistan. the origins of north korea's missile program are russian and there's no denying that. despite the fact that north korean propaganda and their so-called self-reliance ideology says that they developed all these things on their own. whether we can gain cooperation with russia to prevent them from giving more technology than north korea, given the current state of u.s.-russia relations, is hard to imagine. as you may have seen in the news recently, north korea said that -- north korea recognized putin's taking parts of the donbas region as russian territory. and they also publicly announced, it's reported, that they're going to provide munitions and arms to russia, to
the failing russian mulltary effort -- military effort in ukraine. so there's a deep relationship there. one of the things that we don't have a lot of clarity on is that, you know, over the past several years, north korea has really leap frogged technology in terms of these missiles. they've become much better at them. they were able to put a pay load vehicle into orbit much earlier than many of us thought they could. so the question is, where and how did they get that technology? did they have technical help, scientific knowledge that they didn't have before? and we just don't know the answer to that question. but if i had to guess i would say it was coming from russia. then your point about should we treat these countries, khao*upb, russia, as a strategic whole or should we try to separate them. i think prior to the war in ukraine and prior to the
previous administration when the united states was engaged in diplomacy with north korea, we were actually working pretty closely with china to try to get north korea to stop this nuclear weapons programs and its ballistic missile programs. in fact, china even was the host of a multilateral negotiation that i was involved in, it was called the six party talks. the u.s., japan, china, russia, north korea and south korea. china hosted those talks and they signed on to u.n. security council resolutions against north korea. that is no longer the case. china is not willing to cooperate on north korea. in fact, if anything we are seeing the china, russia, north korea axis coming together, he could hearing even more closely -- cohering even more closely together with the events in ukraine, with these north korean launches and with the chinese activities and exercises across
the taiwan strait. host: we're talking with victor cha about north korea. please dial in this morning, we divide the lines, republicans, democrats and independents. you can also text us, include your first name, city and state. victor cha, describe the internal political situation in north korea right now. guest: so, you know, this is a country that's just been ruled by one family since 1945. the kim family. kim el sung, the first leader. now kim jong un, the third leader of north korea. it is a totalitarian system. there's no freedom of anything in north korea. everybody is subservient to the leader and to the state. probably the most salient internal domestic development
has been covid-19, the pandemic, as it has been in almost every other country in the world. the difference is that north korea, they don't have really any sort of public health infrastructure to speak of. and so the outbreak of covid in this country, among the population that already has a lot of co-morbidities in terms of other sorts of diseases, not a strong vaccine infrastructure there, and the fact that none of them -- no one in north korea has received any of the shots, any of the vaccines, and then in addition to that, the population is very badly malnourished. this is a very dangerous situation. so north korea has been, since january, 2020, under a zero covid policy where they have shut down the border completely. all foreign diplomats, all u.n. agencies, other n.g.o.'s,
international institutions, unicef, the world food program that have people in north korea have all left. and the country has basically been under lockdown since january of 2020. so your earlier question about why are they doing this, another possible reason is the people can't be happy with that situation. they're already living near subsistence levels in the best of times. when you lock down the border now for well over two years there must be a great deal of public indignation. so having an external enemy or an external threat where you can say you're firing these missiles to counter them is one of the ways to try to distract the public and draw their attention to the perceived external threat such that they will be distracted and focus on that rather than their own internal hardship. guest: cnn is running a headline right now. officials fear north korea preparing for new nuclear test. what do you think that means?
guest: we have been looking and waiting to see when north korea will do their seventh nuclear test and see if as we use commercial satellite imagery to look at the nuclear test site, our commercial energy has found that basically it appears as though all the preparations for this seventh nuclear test have been done. and that the decision really is up to the political leadership about when they want to do that. in the past we have seen them sequence a long rage ballistic missile test followed by a nuclear test. so it wouldn't be out of the range of plausibility to think that we are seeing them sequence these things again. and that we might see a nuclear test sometime around u.s. midterm elections. the other thing that we know is that north korea testing, whether it's ballistic missile testing or nuclear testing, tends to be higher, more frequent, in u.s. election years than not u.s. election years.
we've collected the data on this. and in general when we are in a midterm election year in the united states or when we are in a presidential election year, we tend to see more north korean testing. and so it wouldn't be out of the range of plausibility that that might be the case and that's probably one of the reasons why u.s. officials are trying to prepare the public for that eventuality. host: back to the internal situation in north korea. the u.s. and its international allies have imposed sanctions on the country. that's what's that done to their economy he? what's their economic situation right now? guest: their economic situation is not good. it's not been good for a while. they suffered a famine in the mid 1990's. they're one of the few industrialized societies in modern history that have suffered a famine because of political mismanagement, economic mismanagement. not because of the sanctions. the majority of the sanctions that have been imposed by the
international community have really been focused on trying to get at elite financing, so elite cash that sits in bank accounts overseas, that sits in bank accounts in russia or in china or in southeast asia or elsewhere. that has sort of what the sanctions have been after. illicit activity. counterfeiting the u.s. currency. these sorts of things. they haven't been general sanctions. the exception is that in 2016-2017, not the united states but the u.n. imposed general trade sanctions against north korea that has affected some of their exports. things like textiles and seafoods. and that has had a broader effect on the economy. and those also certainly have hurt the regime. potentially also hurt the people of north korea.
when the north korean leader kim jong un met with donald trump in vietnam, it was the one thing that he asked for was the lifting of these general trade sanctions. the 2016-2017 sanctions. that in and of itself is about as clear a signal that you can send that these sanctions have been effective. but the other point i'd make about sanctions is, yes, there are a whole battery of sanctions on north korea today by the united nations and by -- and bilateral sanctions by the u.s. and its allies. at the same time though, because of covid, north korea has self-sanctioned. since january, 2020, they have completely shut off their border to any sort of trade. so even though there are sanctions imposed on north korea, covid-19 and their unwillingness to accept international assistance in terms of vaccines and testing equipment and these sorts of things, have really imposed more
sanctions on north korea than any sanctions that the u.n. could have put on north korea. so it's kind of a double whammy right now, if you will, between their own self-isolation and the sanctions currently on them for nuclear testing and ballistic missile testing. host: do we know what this does to the north korean people? guest: yeah, so, usually we would have some sense from the n.g.o.'s and from the diplomatic community that are in the country. but because of the zero covid lockdown, all those people have left. that diplomatic community, you know, e.u., australia and others, have been waiting to get back into the country. they have been trying to find out when the government will allow them back into the country and thus far they haven't gotten a positive answer. so because of that it's hard to really gauge how bad the situation is. there clearly is a food shortage in the country. because they generally suffer a
one million to two million metric ton foot shortage on a good -- food shortage on a good day annually. the lockdown probably makes that food situation more acute. the expert reports i've seen says it's as bad as it was in the mid 1990's when they suffered a famine that killed 10% of the population, over two million people, in north korea. but undeniably the north korean people are suffering. host: ron in florida, democratic caller. hi, ron. caller: hi. i just want to say, i was in the army and in 1967 i was in training in 1968 and then the pueblo was taken. so instead of going to vietnam i went to korea. when i was in korea, the north koreans launched a propaganda program and they took 10,000 transistor radios, put them in a
plastic bag and staoeur foam and sent them out into the sea. they started to land onshore in south korea. the south korean authorities had a heck of a time trying to collect them. now i understand that south korea has balloons, helium balloons that they tie propaganda information to and they float them and they land north into north korea. why can't the south koreans take little bags of rice and float those up into north korea and let -- help feed those >> up next, reporters discuss the midterm elections and how they might impact president biden's agenda. american university is hosting the event. >>